Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was met with ridicule, intense questioning and even a handful of silent protesters on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as lawmakers pressed for answers on multiple ethics investigations now plaguing him. Shelley Moore Capito pressed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday over recently released emails that show White House and EPA officials attempted to delay a new federal standard for C-8 and other similar toxic water-polluting chemicals, which have for decades been detected in several water systems in the Ohio Valley. "Nobody even knows who you are". The Democrats said Monday that the new disclosures undercut Pruitt's claims about the reasons for his pricey security enhancements.
At one point, the lawmaker asked Pruitt to provide details on how he had enlisted aide Millan Hupp to help locate local apartment rentals for him last summer. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who made a brief appearance at the hearing.
"There have been decisions over the past 16 or so months that, as I look back on those decisions, I would not make the same decisions again", Pruitt said. Tom Udall (D-NM), who pointed out that "it's been reported that a member of your staff, one who got a 33 percent raise to over $114,000 earlier this year, house-hunted for you during work hours".
The request for the email investigation came from Democratic Sens.
According to Don Fox, former acting director and general counsel for the Office of Government Ethics, this activity violates "a general prohibition against misusing government resources" regardless of what time of day Hupp did the work. "Now more than ever, Mr. Pruitt should come clean about his spending of taxpayer dollars on all manner of extravagances, and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle should demand he do so". "I want to rectify those going forward", Pruitt said. Udall on whether or not the administrator explicitly requested the use of lights and sirens on agency vehicles while travelling.
Udall tells Pruitt he's treating his position of public trust "as a golden ticket for extravagant travel and fine dining". Tom Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
In contrast, Republican Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska gave the Democrats plenty of freedom to press Pruitt and ask courtroom-style follow-up questions when Pruitt, a lawyer who previously served as Oklahoma's state attorney general, offered answers that were not as specific as lawmakers wanted.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has often refrained from questioning Pruitt's spending habits during public hearings and instead focused on agency accomplishments and activities, admitted Wednesday that she felt the multiple probes were overshadowing the EPA's objective.
Pruitt has drawn a firestorm of criticism over his travel and security expenses, and has attracted allegations of ethics violations for renting a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent energy lobbyist.
"Yes - with the clarification that obviously it would be EPA email, emails from the agencies".